Red Velvet Cupcakes

What is it about red velvet cupcakes that make us smile?  Is it the nostalgia of red velvet  birthday cakes from childhood that come to mind or is it the striking color of the baked cupcake that captivates us?  Whatever the reasons may be, most of us adore red velvet baked goods because they’re mouthwatering.  Lately, I’ve seen red velvet whoopie pies at bakeries and at stores, which look amazing, but let's stick to cupcakes here.  Delicious cupcakes.

It’s often the case, in my opinion, and I’m sure you’ll agree, that many recipes for red velvet batters lack the flavor necessary to make them truly delicious.  I’m not sure what it is, but as promising as some red velvet cakes & cupcakes seem to be, they fall short of my expectations.  

After having tried different recipes in the past, I’m convinced that the best tasting batters for this type of cupcake are those which use butter.  A butter cake base gives a richer flavor while keeping the telltale signs of a remarkable red velvet look.  Pairing the cupcakes with a traditional cream cheese icing makes them perfect for any type of celebration.  To create an even more enticing look, leave a bit of the cupcake exposed to draw everyone in.

Let's bake!

The Ingredients
  • 3 cups {315 g.} cake flour, spooned & leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon {2.5 ml.} baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon {2.5 ml.} fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon {15 ml.} dutch process cocoa powder
  • 2 sticks or 16 tablespoons {226 g.} unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups {400 g.} granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon {15 ml.} pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup {240 ml.} milk, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon {6.25 ml.} cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon {6.25 ml.} baking soda
  • One 1 oz. bottle {29 ml.} red food coloring
Yield: 30 cupcakes
Equipment: standard muffin tins lined with cupcake liners

Center oven racks
Preheat oven to 350° F (177°C)

Always sift cake flour.

  1.  In a medium bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder, fine sea salt & dutch-process cocoa powder.  Keep this ready.
  2.  In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed for one minute.  Gradually add the granulated sugar in a steady stream and continue beating for 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is very light, fluffy & thick.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl & paddle at least once during this process.
  3.  On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Do make sure that each egg emulsifies before adding the next one.  Beat in the vanilla extract.
  4.  On low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients with the milk.  Add the dry in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.
  5.  In a bowl, combine the cider vinegar & baking soda.  Add to the batter on low speed.
  6.  Carefully add the red food coloring along the edge of the bowl.  Beat until combined.

Spray the tops of your muffin pans with a nonstick cooking spray to prevent the crowning cupcakes from sticking.

Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake pans, filling each about 3/4 of the way to the top.  For the recipe I used two 12 cup muffin pans and one 6 cup muffin pan.

Bake the cupcakes for
18-22 minutes

The tops should crown and feel springy, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake should come out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 5 minutes.  Gently remove each cupcake and cool them on racks completely before frosting them.

Cream Cheese Frosting

The Ingredients
  • 1 lb. or two 8 oz. packages cream cheese {454 g.}, cold
  • 1 stick or 8 tablespoons {113 g.} unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons {10 ml.} pure vanilla extract
  • 6-8 cups {680 g. - 907 g.} confectioners' sugar

  1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter & cream cheese on medium speed until lightened, about 2 minutes.
  2.  Add the vanilla and 6 cups confectioners', and beat on low speed until the frosting comes together.  Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until the frosting is creamy and light.  If the frosting is not thick enough, beat in more confectioners' sugar.
  3.  I like a stiff cream cheese icing for piping so I tend to add more confectioners' sugar to achieve this.

Place the icing into a large pastry bag fitted with a large 1/2" round piping tip.

Pipe a thick spiral on top of each cupcake, beginning from the outside and working your way toward the middle.  

Note: the cupcakes can sit out for a few hours prior to serving, otherwise they should be refrigerated (well-covered).

For these special cupcakes I decided to sprinkle red coarse sanding sugar atop each cupcake.  They're pretty either way.

Red Velvet Cupcakes are as easy as 1-2-3.

Enjoy these special treats!